There are many things I hate about my depression and anxiety – the constant feeling of being on edge, the sense of worthlessness and uselessness that is so easy to justify, the speed in which I can go from being a bit melancholy to being full on suicidal, the exhaustion that comes from crying for hours, the embarrassment and guilt of “losing it” in public, the lack of concentration, the lack of sleep.
And of feeling patronised.
I use a mental health online support group. It’s often helpful, sometimes a godsend. I can post things there that I hide from my friends these days for fear of driving them further away. I have nowhere else to release these thoughts and I’ve come to understand that getting them out somehow is a relieve no matter how small and how temporary. I haven’t really made any “friends” on this site but I don’t think I’m a person who makes friends any more so I’m neither surprised nor disappointed; I have exchanged messages and both given and received support and this is good enough.
But the thing I don’t like about the site is the babyishness (!) of it. The cartoon animal that talks to us mental cases like we’re children who believe that an elephant (and its keepers) can run a website and has magic answers. I have depression; this doesn’t mean that I’m intellectually deficient. I am a little more ashamed of myself and my condition every time this pachyderm doodle tells me that he’s wrapping up his trunk against the cold or gives us droolers a wordsearch or colouring task to complete.
And then there are all the times that I, and others, are told we should be proud of ourselves because we got out of bed this morning/had a shower/didn’t exsanguinate from razor cuts today. I sound ungrateful for the support; I’m not. On the contrary, anyone – friend or complete stranger – who gives even a cursory nod in my direction is awarded with my eternal gratitude these days. I’m immensely lonely and alone and I send nothing but thanks to those who relieve this loneliness for even a second; some of you have saved my life without even knowing it. But I also know that simply having a shower and not hanging myself with the belt off my dressing gown is not a reason to be proud. I am not “doing so well”. I am dragging my feet through life, lamenting the wasted opportunities and my pointlessness as a human being. This is nothing to be proud of even if I am clean and dressed today, even went for a little walk and popped round the shops.
Don’t treat me like a child because I have a mental illness. This is what exacerbates the fear and the alienating of my fellow sufferers. Yes, I need help and, yes, I need support but I am not a fool. I am simply depressed.